Bühler forms JV with Dutch firm to boost industrial insect production

SWITZERLAND – Swiss equipment solutions provider Bühler has formed a joint venture with a leading Dutch company that specializes in growing and processing of insects to boost the company’s capacity ‘to take the company to the next level.’

Dubbed Bühler Insect Technology Solutions, the joint venture will develop scalable, industrial solutions for the rearing, and processing of insects to provide protein primarily for animal feed and food industry.

Bühler Insect Technology Solutions, bring together Bühler – the leading solution provider for the food and feed industry – and Protix – the leading insect production company.

It is located Liyang, China and has already begun operations.

“By combining the knowledge and experience of our two companies, we can provide industrial insect processing solutions to address the alternative protein market,” explains Ian Roberts, CTO of Bühler.

“Together, we can develop both sustainable and cost effective solutions for large scale insect producers and processors that cover the whole value chain,” adds Kees Aarts,

Protix, founded in 2009 and based in the Netherlands, has developed proprietary equipment and solutions and gained extensive operational expertise in the breeding and rearing and also in the separation and extraction of proteins and lipids from insects over the years.

The company processes 1,600 tonnes of insect larvae per year and produces high quality, insect-based ingredients at its pilot plant. The World Economic Forum recently recognized it as a Technology Pioneer in 2015.

“Protix is the most advanced insect company that has demonstrated industrial-scale production in a way that is scalable and multipliable. They have proven how to create a market in insect protein,” explains Roberts.

The joint venture seeks to solve one of humanity’s challenges as the World population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050: how to feed the growing population’s demand for protein in a sustainable way.

According to Bühler, “we need more than 250 million tonnes of additional protein a year – an increase of 50% compared to today’s level,” but with dwindling natural resources of protein including fish and soybeans, insects provide a viable alternative due to their promise of generating protein sustainably with low footprint.

In the JV, Bühler will provide its experience in “developing scalable, cost effective, hygienic plants and processes for food and feed products” and provide its technology in milling, which is one of the key process steps for extracting protein from insects.

With Protix ready to take the company to the next level, there was a need for a partner who understands the requirements of large, industrial processors. This is where Bühler came in.

“Bühler has a strong, established business providing technologies for animal feed, and protein from the insects can be used in pellets, or directly as animal feed.

With our global market access, technology base, and engineering capabilities, combined with the deep knowledge, experience and entrepreneurial flair of Protix, we have the ingredients for a successful commercial partnership,” Roberts says.

The goal of the joint venture is to develop industrial scale solutions for feedstock processing, larvae rearing and larvae processing, and to produce high-quality insect ingredients – covering the whole value chain from rearing to separation and extraction of proteins and lipids.

The insect proteins will be used primarily for the production of sustainable animal feed, for example in aquaculture, which is the fastest growing agricultural segment in the world.

According to Bühler, the market for insect processing solutions has huge potential. It estimates that by 2050, insects could account for 15% of global protein production.

In related news, the opportunity of utilizing insects in human and animal nutrition is one of the key topics at the AFGRAINS Conference stream at the African Food Manufacturing & Safety Summit (AFMASS) slated for Nairobi, Kenya in April 25-27, 2017.

January 16, 2017

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